Vince Hendricks
A possible way for italki to 'monetize' language partner requests

So, we all know the discussion area is littered with language partner requests and italki has no incentive to do much about it.

How about the following:

1) Create a special forum just for language requests.

2) Only paying students can post in this special forum.

3) Each request must clearly state (perhaps by using drop down lists when creating the post) what level you are, what levels you are willing to work with, how often you want to exchange, time slots of general availability (i.e. 1600-20:00 EST Sat/Sun), etc. In other words, each request will have to have at least some basic info to even post.

The advantages to students:

- You will be working with students who have already had experience with language learning over skype, etc.

- Expectations will be clear as they are forced to be entered when making the request.

- Presumably if people have paid to take lessons, they are somewhat dedicated to the learning process and will take the language exchange seriously.

- A would be nice feature: After having a successful exchange, you can increment the number of successful exchanges on the other persons profile. There would be no negative feedback, just number of successes. Good language partners will have a high number of successes and should have an easier time finding other partners. There are obvious pitfalls here, not sure how to make this work nicely without becoming a useless feature.

The advantage to italki:

- Incentive to take at least 1 lesson so that you can ask for a language partner on the 'special' forum.

This is just a rough idea. What do you think?

Mar 22, 2019 8:49 PM
Comments · 21
This will exclude the majority of users who are looking for language exchange. Many people simply can't afford booking classes, for instance users from developing countries. Iranian users can't transfer money internationally. Venezuelan users have an average monthly income of 6$ per month. If one has to be a premium member in order to look for a language partner it becomes an exclusive club of relatively wealthy people. It'll be a much less diverse community.
March 22, 2019
Well, there's another way to make money with users who don't pay and having an incentive for paying a subscription fee: advertisements. Users who don't pay get to see advertisements while users who pay a fee get to see an ad-free website.
March 22, 2019
Sounds great, but availability for only paying students is well... Not very nice, let's say so. Of course you're right about the advantages of paying students (their serious attitude). But then, you deprive non-paying students of such opportunity (no matter how serious they are about learning languages). Iralki was supposed to be free of charge. Even existing restrictions drive me mad sometimes. Otherwise I see no flaws. A really good idea!😁👍
March 22, 2019


Your suggestion to post ads for non-paying members and no ads for paying members is a great idea.

Therein lies the balance - everybody wins, italki is compensated and the service remains free.

Perfect.... well done Miriam

March 23, 2019
I also thought about making use of the italki points. Similar to what Alycia suggests, that one can only post language partner request, if one has done something for the community. The points gained by the activity could then be used as a token for posting language partner requests. I'd like to add active discussion forum participation to the list. It's easy for speakers of major languages to gain points by correcting notebook entries or answering questions. But for native speakers of languages that are hardly learnt there's not much they can do. If one is a High Valyrian speaker but there are neither notebook entries nor questions about High Valyrian, what can this person do? Well, sparking interesting discussions for starters. I think it'd be beneficial (but sadly also utopical) if all members of this community who hope to receive some help, also showed some commitment in one way or another.
March 23, 2019
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